February already! If God were to judge our 2016 life achievements by a row of 12 candles that had been lit in anticipation, he’d be reminding us that one is already snuffed out and we’ve only eleven more before the year is gone.
It’s the proverbial case of tempus fugit (line 284 of book 3 of Virgil’s Georgics, where it appears as fugit inreparabile tempus: ‘It escapes, irretrievable time’). We usually say ‘time is on the wing!’Don’t know about you, but our January indeed winged by (with all sorts of incidents, adventures, challenges and victories – and even February is moving along quickly!
No doubt you too have inspired goals and aspirations for 2016…in all these we need to know in our heart that we can rely on our God and that, through Jesus, we have the incredible power of the Holy Spirit within.
We also need to be in a sound, caring church where the Sunday messages are meaningfully based on the word of God, not from some spurious book, fanciful ideas or obviously non-exegetical teaching.
And we need praying friends! And that we ourselves know what the word says so that when challenged – as all who would venture forth to serve Jesus and help build his church will be – we can recall strengthening scriptures such as Jude 1:20-21, ‘You, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (NLT, emphasis ours).
Following Jesus, doing what is right, is good and important. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12 -14 about pressing through and not giving the race away: ‘I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.’
Good to dream in God, good to hang in and press though for the prize – but note the following…
A brave young woman
Irena Sendler died in 2008 aged 98. Who’s Irena Sendler? you ask. One of the bravest women in WW2!
But she had an ulterior motive…Irena Sendler was actually a Zegota (underground Rescuers of Jews) leader, and smuggled infants and babies out in coffins, sacks, suitcases and other means. This brave young woman hurried them through a network of secret passages and basements or across Nazi soldier-patrolled streets.
It’s told that Irena had in the back of her truck a dog she trained to bark when Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. Soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog and its barking covered the noises of the children and infants.
Irena and her network managed to defy the Nazis by smuggling out 2500 children and infants! But, unfortunately, she was caught in 1943. The Nazis tortured her severely, breaking her feet and legs but she refused to disclose the location of a record she had made of the children’s names.
Warsaw, 2005: Irena Sendler with some of the people she saved as children
Irena’s achievement had gone largely unnoticed for many years but in 1967 she was recognised by Yad Vashemin as one of the Polish Righteous among the Nations, and a tree was planted in her honour at the entrance to the Avenue of the Righteous.
In 1991 Irena Sendler was made an honorary citizen of Israel and in 1996 she was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. She was to receive a higher version of this award, the Commander’s Cross with Star, in 2001.
Irena’s story was uncovered by four young students at Uniontown High School, Kansas, who were the winners of the 2000 Kansas state National History Day competition by writing a play Life in a Jar about the heroic actions of Irena Sendler. The presentation, seen in many venues in the United States and popularised by National Public Radio, C-SPAN and CBS, brought her story to a wider public.
But…you ain’t always gonna win the prize!
‘Ain’t‘ ain’t (oops…sorry! – isn’t) good English, neither is ‘gonna.’
Anyway the above subheading grabs our attention, especially when we recall the following regarding Irena Sendler …
This committed lady’s simple belief was: ‘Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory.’
After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived the Holocaust and reunite the family. Most had been gassed. The children she helped were placed into foster family homes or adopted.
In 2007 Irena Sendler – the incredibly brave lady known as the ‘Female Oscar Schindler’ – was yet again (third time!) nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Amazingly she was not selected. Even more amazingly Al Gore won… for a slide show on global warming!
Irena once said of her wartime lack of recognition, ’Did the world help me when I was saving these children? I walked the streets, crying over my helplessness.’
What about our Nobel?
Feeling unknown, misunderstood, alone, crying out for help?
It’s a Christian’s lot (whether minister or simply God-honouring Christian knowing his ways and obeying his directions) not to be always recognised for our worth! To feel alone, that no one – including other Christians, pastoral leaders and career bosses – understands us or wants to help.
But the Lord does … for he had his own black moments too (Remember Jesus’ dilemma in Luke 22:39-46). The idea is to push on through regardless – with his understanding, help and power.
Draw courage afresh from the great comforter, the Holy Spirit! Oh our tears may flow too at times, sickness and sadness, traumas may overwhelm us seeking to instill fear and panic (see last month’s Encouragement – Did God really Say? The Big Lie, Deception and the Brain Lizard) … but we will get wonderfully blessed during our ministry here as we press on regardless, seeking no worldly acclaim.
And the best news of all… our ultimate, greatest prize – our heavenly, Christ-awarded Nobel Prize reward – awaits us in glory with a rousing welcome: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!‘ (Matthew 25:21,26).
Whether our calling, our challenges, in life are big or small in our eyes, to Jesus they’re simply all part of his overall plan. He has already done the real hard work – as we’ll celebrate next month!
Links: Engaging the World – Ed Delph’s Won’t You be a Good Neighbour, a Good Samaritan? / Focus – Harold Harvey’s Parables – Familiar Stories With Spiritual Lessons / Inspirational – Sandro Schietroma’s A New Day, A New Beginning / Opinion – Andrew Corbett’s Spiritual Medicine / TheBuzz – Wayne Swift’s Breakthrough/Breakout From Restrictions! / Movie DVD – The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (starring Anna Paquin) and Irena Sendler https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/irenasendler.html